Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber is a big fan of the CONCACAF Champions League, but at least he has a reason: Should one of the five MLS clubs competing in the 10-nation regional tournament actually win it, the league would get a berth in the prestigious FIFA Club World Cup, greatly raising its profile.
Galaxy Coach Bruce Arena, who coaches one of those teams, doesn't share that passion.
After interrupting the Galaxy's push toward the MLS playoffs for a detour into the Champions League on Thursday, Arena questioned whether it was worth it.
"Making a transition into this circuit sometimes is unbelievable," he said. "It's very difficult on MLS teams. I sometimes wonder why we spend all the resources and the time we do in this competition when sometimes it looks really bizarre."
And Arena was speaking after his team won, dominating Isidro Metapan of El Salvador, 5-2, at the Home Depot Center in a game that was far more one-sided than the scoreboard showed.
"We could have won by a larger margin. No question about that," Arena said.
"That game should be a five- or six-goal margin. Period."
But the match did serve at least one purpose by giving midfielder David Beckham a workout. Beckham, freshly returned from watching the Olympic Games in London and playing just his second game in five weeks, had one goal, set up two others and narrowly missed getting credit for Isidro Metapan's first score.
Beckham was at the center of everything in a first half that featured the teams exchanging bizarre goals early on.
Isidro Metapan took a 1-0 lead in the 17th minute on a shot that appeared to glance off Beckham's boot before being deflected in by Metapan's Nicolas Munoz. The Galaxy matched that three minutes later when a Beckham cross into the box was batted away by keeper Fidel Mondragon only to have the ball strike defender Ricardo Alvarado and carom into the net for an own goal.
A more conventional goal from Robbie Keane, who headed in a long one-bounce cross from Beckham, put the Galaxy ahead to stay in the 22nd minute. Beckham then added an insurance goal on the last play of the first half, bending a corner kick off Mondragon's gloved hands and into the net at the near post. The Galaxy's Juninho had a pair of goals and Metapan's Munoz scored on a penalty kick in the last 11 minutes to account for the final score.
Keane wasn't around to see any of that, however, having been ejected in the 70th minute for arguing with referee Alfredo Penaloza. The official clearly lost control of the game in the second half, even giving a yellow card to Galaxy substitute Michael Stephens as he ran onto the field in the final minutes.
"He started bad and finished bad," Juninho said of Penaloza.